Guest Post: From Growing Up Poor to Working in Big Law

Growing Up Poor | CorporetteHow does your background — like growing up poor — affect your life in Big Law or other conservative jobs? After all, Big Law (and other Big jobs) can be interesting places, full of strange traditions, big personalities, and a lot of assumptions — that everyone knows what to wear yachting or for a golf scramble, for example. Today, I’m happy to welcome back Ruth Moore*, a lawyer turned actress (who’s currently a recurring character in a TV series) with some deep thoughts on how growing up poor affected her legal career. Ruth has guest posted before, with a Tales From the Wallet post about how to break free from golden handcuffs (and get used to paying tuition again). Welcome back, Ruth! – Kat.

This post came about because I was telling Kat about how I’d always been curious which of my Big Law colleagues had also grown up below the poverty line. I have this theory that there were certain habits and ways of thinking from growing up poor that stuck with me as a young adult, when I suddenly went up a couple of rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

Some of those habits were sartorial. For example, even though I was earning a lot of money, I was still very cheap with myself, especially in the beginning. I distinctly remember buying a pair of jeans from H&M for $39.99 and thinking, “Wow, I’m buying forty-dollar jeans at full price, I really made it!” For work clothes, I splurged on two skirts and three shirts (deeply discounted) from a chain that represented, to me, the height of luxury: The United Colors of Benetton. Dry cleaning seemed too frivolous so I’d just wash them by hand. I wore my Aldo heels with the same pride with which my officemate wore her Louboutins. I didn’t get a professional haircut until my fourth year as a lawyer, opting to trim it myself instead. It’s kind of a miracle that no one reported me to “What Not to Wear.” (Pictured: Money, originally uploaded to Flickr by loopoboy 2.0.)

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Guest Post: Crazy Work Schedule? Go Easy on Yourself

Too Busy to Exercise? | Corporette Has life ever gotten so crazy that there was NO WAY you could work out? Sure, exercise is important, and everyone should do it regularly. We all know that. But Jewish Girl, the blogger behind Stuff Jewish Girls Like, reminds us that you shouldn’t feel guilty if it seems impossible right now to fit in regular workouts. Life (i.e., a crazy work schedule) sometimes gets in the way. I forget how I first discovered her blog, but I’ve been a reader for a few years — her life as a busy associate in a BigLaw firm (and adventures with shopping and fun stuff like the 30 Day Shred) sound, well, very familiar to me. Welcome to the blog, JG! – Kat.

Hello, Corporette readers! I’m JG, and up until last month (when I left private practice for a government job) I was a third-year associate at a big civil litigation firm. Before leaving, I found myself assigned to a particularly challenging trial team. The hours were extremely long, the room service was extremely plentiful, and within no time my pants followed suit: they became extremely tight. The experience taught me something new about exercising in the midst of utter professional chaos. I’m not talking about the chaos of working a few late nights or early mornings. I’m talking about the chaos of suddenly moving to a new city, living out of a hotel room, and working a seemingly never-ending string of 17- to 20-hour days.

Two weeks into the trial, somewhere in between my 3:30pm mango papaya smoothie and my 3:30am order of buffalo wings (with both ranch and bleu cheese dressing, because this girl loves her options), a fellow lawyer told me about a handy-dandy seven-minute workout anyone can do from the floor of their hotel room. It’s apparently perfect for those occasions when you are short on time and can’t devote yourself to a full hour in the gym. Great idea, right? After all, EVERYONE has seven minutes! Right? Sure! What’s more important that physical fitness, after all? Certainly NOT an extra bleu cheese dressing (just in case the ratio of cheese chunks to dressing was off in the first batch). Certainly not that.

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Guest Post: Finding Time to Exercise

Finding Time to Exercise | CorporetteA regular exercise regimen and an intense job are not easy things to reconcile — so how do you fit exercise into a busy day? We’ve talked about midday workouts, some of my favorite exercise DVDs, and generally talked about how to find time to exercise, but not in a while — so I’m thrilled to welcome today’s guest poster, the blogger behind Sweet Hot Justice, who is doing the impossible and balancing a busy job as in-house counsel with a pretty awesome exercise routine. I’ve known of her since we both started anonymous blogs Way Back in ’08 — but we only just recently met in real life, and she’s every bit as awesome as her hilarious writing would make you think she might be. Please welcome Maria de Cesare of Sweet Hot Justice, giving her own excellent pointers for fitting workouts into your busy schedule! – Kat.

I hate working out. Not “I hate working out” as in “Gyms aren’t my thing but I cherish my daily 5-mile jog.” No. I mean “I hate working out” as in “After working 60-hour weeks, I’d rather do almost any other thing in the universe, including sitting in a room and staring at my hands, than work out.” Also… I’m not exactly what you’d call an athlete. I have a job that involves lots of aggressive sitting. I hate sweating. You’ll never hear “Oh my god, Soul Cycle is the best thing on Sunday mornings!” come out of my mouth. You know what’s the best thing on Sunday mornings? A three-hour champagne brunch followed by not going to Soul Cycle.

So, why in the world should you listen to me for tips about how to make fitness fit into your life? Well, because if I can make it happen, believe me, you can make it happen. A few years ago, after leaving a Big Law job and ignoring my personal fitness for years, my body just felt off. My back always hurt. My clothes didn’t fit the way I wished they did. I just felt like a weak, disconnected mess.

But now, after stumbling through a few fits and starts and finally finding a fitness routine that works for me, I feel stronger and more in sync with my body than I ever have. And now, even when I’m tired and cranky and absolutely dreading the idea of schlepping to the gym, I know that I’ll feel 100% better after I do — and that keeps me coming back.

So, I know that you don’t have time to work out, I know that there are a million other things you’d rather do with your all-too-precious time and money — believe me, I’m right there with you. But, if you’re looking to jump on the fitness rainbow, keep these general thoughts in mind:

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Emergency Preparedness — What’s Smart, What’s Crazy?

Emergency Preparedness Plans | CorporetteAre you prepared for various emergencies?  When do you think emergency preparedness crosses the line from smart to crazy?  We joked the other day about “Nine Ways to Prepare your Office for a Zombie Attack,” but that got me thinking — I’ve read a ton of advice lately about emergency preparedness plans for situations you never want to be in, and while some of it is a bit out there, most of it I’m glad to have read. Maybe it’s the former lifeguard in me (or the mama) but it calms me in a weird way to know what to do and have a plan of attack, and I often find myself discussing it with my husband afterwards, teaching him what I’ve learned. Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems like there are more and more of these stories, too. (For what it’s worth, we have had a serious discussion on here about the best self-defense tips for women.)  Ladies, do you like these stories? Or do you think it’s crazy prep for the paranoid?  (After all: may none of us ever have to use any of this knowledge!)

These are some of the stories that I’ve read and thought were really helpful — have any to add?

  • What To Do If You Fall On the Subway Tracks [Gothamist]
  • How to Stay Safe If You’re Caught in a Mass Shooting [Lifehacker]
  • How to Survive a Plane Crash [Smarter Travel, via Huffington Post]
  • How to Survive a Fall Through the Ice [Lifehacker]

Another fun topic: what emergency supplies do you keep in your homes? [Read more...]

Beauty Wednesday: Spa Time!

The Best Spa Treatments | CorporetteWhich are your favorite spa treatments? We’ve talked about relaxation habits, laughter as medicine, the best magazines to read while you unwind, the best brain candy books — but we haven’t talked about spa treatments, and I’m curious what other people like.  So readers, speak up!

For my $.02, it’s all about the 60-minute Swedish massage.  (Longer if I can swing it!)  Sometimes I like a hot stone massage; sometimes I like a deep tissue massage… but for the most part, I’m just a simple massage girl.  Here in NYC my husband and I love Graceful Spa in Chelsea (they just had a Groupon — I think it’s still on), which is so not a bells and whistles kind of place (think more along the lines of “here’s a tupperware bin to put your clothes in, go lie down behind that curtain”) — but they have always delivered a solid massage and for a reasonable price.  (Surprisingly, some of the fancier places we’ve been to in the city have delivered far worse massages.) [Read more...]

Dealing with Holiday Stress

How to Deal with Holiday Stress | CorporetteI’ve seen a lot of friends Facebooking and posting about holiday stress, so I thought we’d have a discussion about it today.  Here are the questions:  Do you get stressed out around the holidays, and why?  (Seeing family? Leaving on vacation? Year-end office stress? Gifts?) How do you deal with the stress? (Mantras? Better personal care, such as working out more regularly or treating yourself to a massage?)  On the flip side — for those of you NOT so stressed, share with us what you like about the season! What do you enjoy the most?

For my $.02, I tend to enjoy the holidays more than stress about them, but that hasn’t always been true.  We almost always spend the holidays visiting my family in Ohio, and back in my law firm days it was always hectic trying to get out of the office on time (and without feeling like I needed to ship a box of paperwork to my parents’ address).  In my single days it seemed to make me feel my most un-coupled (I won’t say lonely since I was always surrounded by family and friends, but not being coupled can be a source of stress in and of itself); now that I do have a husband and child it can be stressful to get the right thing or create the right environment.  (For the first time in my adult life I have a Christmas tree (pictured)!  Amazing!)  As for what I enjoy, I love seeing the cards and messages that come from family and friends, and I love to take stock of how the year has gone (for the business, for the family, for the apartment, etc, etc).  In terms of how I get through it — we try to eat healthy and avoid alcohol on the days that we don’t have social events, and I try to get at least 20 minutes of exercise every day because, everyone can find 20 minutes somewhere, right?

Readers, how about you — is the ending of the year a source of stress or happiness for you?  How do you get through it?